Sun Jul 21 4:23pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock takes part in drills during the opening day of the team's NFL football training camp Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien looks to pass the ball during drills at the team's NFL football training camp Friday, July 19, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos quarterback Kevin Hogan looks to pass the ball during drills at the team's NFL football training camp Friday, July 19, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco takes part in drills during the opening day of the team's NFL football training camp Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) If Joe Flacco stays healthy, it won't matter that rookie quarterbacks Drew Lock and Brett Rypien are greenhorns and incumbent backup Kevin Hogan has gotten off to a rocky start in Denver this summer.
Hogan, who has started just one game in the NFL, back in 2017 for the Cleveland Browns, threaded an 11-yard TD pass to Noah Fant past two defenders Sunday that was easily his best throw of training camp.
Before that, the fourth-year pro had been misfiring with no pressure, repeatedly overshooting open receivers with either a clean pocket or in 7-on-7 periods where there was no pass rush at all.
That was an alarming development for a team that lacks experience behind Flacco, the 34-year-old QB the Broncos acquired from Baltimore in the offseason.
''I saw some good throws out there today'' from Hogan, coach Vic Fangio said. ''I'll see more when I go in and watch the tape. But I think Kevin has made a lot of improvements, and I'm talking from the spring to now ... and hopefully he'll keep doing that.''
Competing with Hogan for the No. 2 job is Lock, a second-round draft pick who's taking a crash course in the pro passing game after lining up under center at Missouri only a handful of times.
Rypien, who went undrafted after winning 37 games at Boise State, is hoping to stick around either as the third quarterback or on the practice squad.
''I like Brett,'' Fangio said. ''Brett, I think, maybe has got a future.''
Lock might very well be the future in Denver, but he's got a long way to go. He relied on his athleticism in college and was known for side-arming the ball, something Fangio only wants to see when his quarterback has a defender in his face.
''It's good that he can do that, but he needs to use it when he needs to, not when he doesn't need to,'' Fangio said. ''His college offense really had no carry-over to pro offenses and he was under duress a lot of times at his college, so a lot of his plays he was running around.''
Therefore, Fangio said, ''I don't think he's far along being a ready NFL quarterback as he could have been. ... He's not a quarterback yet. He's a hard-throwing pitcher that doesn't know how to pitch yet, so the faster he gets that, the better off he'll be - and we'll be.''
Fangio is hoping Lock proves a quick study.
''Every player is different, especially at that position,'' Fangio said. ''It could happen fast, like we've seen some rookies do. It could be a process to where it could be a couple of years. So, fast or a couple of years, somewhere in between. We'll see. I tell him that is on him. He's got to do it.''
For now, the Broncos are counting on Flacco, who's hoping to follow in Peyton Manning's footsteps and have a solid second chapter in Denver.
General manager John Elway said he finally feels good about his QB room after trading a fourth-round pick to the Ravens for Flacco and selecting Lock in the second round of the NFL draft.
''We just felt that with Joe coming in, getting him in a trade, and where he is in his career, we feel like he's in his prime. At least we hope he is,'' Elway said. ''To have a young guy like Drew learn under him and be able to kind of solidify that position for a while, obviously we've been looking for one since Peyton retired.''
Elway cycled through Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler and Case Keenum following Manning's retirement in 2016.
''That's always a difficult position to fill,'' Elway said. ''But we finally feel pretty good about that position and where we are.''
Notes: TE Jack Butt took a scheduled day off, TE Troy Fumagalli is day-to-day with a sore hip and rookie LB Justin Hollins sat out Sunday with a sore hamstring. ... The Broncos hosted Alzheimer's Awareness D ay on Sunday, two months after team owner Pat Bowlen died at 75 following a long battle with the disease. Daughter Anabelle noted the sea of purple in the crowd replacing the usual orange. ''This day is hard,'' she said. ''But we are showing that we are strong and this is a way to raise money so things like this won't happen.''
Washington Redskins wide receiver Trey Quinn was held out of last week's preseason game, but he returned to practice on Sunday. Quinn will likely enter Week 1 as the Redskins' slot receiver, providing him with intriguing fantasy potential in PPR leagues. Regardless of who earns the starting QB job for Week 1, the Redskins don't figure to be an explosive passing offense. Without the presence of a proven big-play threat on the outside, it stands to reason that high-percentage plays to Quinn out of the slot will be a focal point as Washington tries to move the chains in chunks. That said, until we see clear evidence of this in game situations, Quinn falls outside the fantasy radar for now.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Detrez Newsome may be losing his spot in the pecking order. Coming into Sunday's game against the Saints, Newsome was slated to be the team's No. 3 running back after Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, but he got jumped by Troymaine Pope when it came time to actually go into the game. To make matters worse, Newsome did nothing of importance while Pope took a punt to the house for the biggest play of the game. At this point, Newsome may be at real risk to be cut from the team. He'll need to step it up in practice this week to see much of a future in LA.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Troymaine Pope made the big play in Sunday's game when he took a punt to the house in the final seconds of the first half. Pope's 81-yard runback was one of the big plays Chargers coaches have been hoping to see him make, and it looks like he's moved up the depth chart to be the team's No. 3 (or No. 4, if they're counting Melvin Gordon) running back at the moment. Pope came into the game after Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, and while he didn't do much on the ground, he tied for the team lead in targets through the air. Pope is one of those explosive players who has the chance to take any touch in for a score, so he could become a real factor, especially if the running backs corps were to suffer any injuries.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin missed Thursday's preseason game with a tailbone injury, but he returned to practice Sunday. McLaurin has yet to factor into either of the Redskins' first two exhibitions, but early reports on his training camp performances have caused some intrigue as to what he can do in game action. McLaurin is a rookie behind an underwhelming collection of wideouts on Washington's depth chart, and if he can find a sustainable role in the offense, there is appeal from a fantasy standpoint. Keep an eye out to see how heavily featured McLaurin is in Thursday's third preseason contest.
Still recovering from offseason hip surgery, Miami wide receiver Albert Wilson is unlikely to play in the Dolphin's third preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Still not ready for live-action, Wilson should move up to participating in 11-on-11 drills in the next few days and is still seen as being on track to be ready for the Dolphin's regular-season opener against the Ravens. A popular sleeper after flashing his big-play ability last year, Wilson has a 218 ADP in NFBC and could return big value; but only if Miami can figure out their quarterback play, as neither Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh Rosen have impressed so far.
Washington Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins has missed a field goal and an extra point this preseason, with one made FG and two successful PATs. While this is hardly a sample size worth reading into, there are a few other factors that stand to negatively impact his fantasy value in 2019. The Redskins will play all but two of their games (at Dallas, at Minnesota) this season at outdoor venues. They also have a three-week stretch in December that includes two home games and one road bout at Green Bay. The weather in the Mid-Atlantic around Christmastime usually isn't ideal for kickers, and we all know what it could be like at Lambeau that time of year. Hopkins does have the advantage of playing for an offense that could reasonably be expected to falter in scoring position a lot, providing him a surplus of FG opportunities. On the flip side, his chances for virtually free points after touchdowns could be minimal. Even at a weird and unpredictable position, there are better options on draft day.
Washington Redskins quarterback Case Keenum is probably going to be named the Week 1 starter, but he hasn't closed the door on rookie Dwayne Haskins yet. Keenum has completed just seven of 16 pass attempts this preseason, good for a 43.8% completion rate. Keenum's advantage over Haskins is that he brings experience to a team that genuinely believes it can compete for a playoff spot in 2019, but a reassuring performance from him in Week 3 of the preseason would go a long way. Haskins has seen a bulk of the work at QB through Washington's first two games, with mixed results but likely higher upside. It stands to reason that head coach Jay Gruden's decision will come down to whether or not the rookie's ceiling outweighs the veteran's higher floor. Keenum and the first-team offense should see enough work in Thursday's exhibition to allow the coaching staff to make a determination. Either way, this is not an especially fantasy-friendly quarterback situation.
In the battle to be the team's possible starting running back, Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler barely saw the field in the team's second preseason game. That may be a good thing though, as Ekeler is already kind of seen as the favorite to win the starting gig with nothing to prove. Ekeler's known for his quickness instead of his power though, so it wouldn't be surprising that even if he is officially named the starter in Melvin Gordon's absence, he would likely carry a light load and regularly take breaks while Justin Jackson fills in. If his explosiveness can translate to heavier usage, Ekeler could be a surprisingly valuable back this season.
Perennially underrated, Dolphin's wide receiver Kenny Stills caught two of his three targets for 16 yards in a 16-14 preseason loss to Tampa Bay on Friday. With a 172 ADP in NFBC, Stills is the 67th wide receiver being taken, which is just a few spots after teammate Devante Parker. Stills was a top-30 WR in 2016 and 2017 and was still the #52 WR last year after a disappointing Dolphins season, catching only 37 passes for 538 yards and six touchdowns.
Minnesota Vikings running back Mike Boone picked up 66 yards on 21 carries and caught one pass for 45 yards during a 25-19 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2 of the preseason. The 24-year-old is an explosive playmaker, but Dalvin Cook and rookie Alexander Mattison are ahead of him on the depth chart. At this point, Boone is a supremely deep sleeper, who still has to beat out Ameer Abdullah for the RB3 role. Nevertheless, Cook has failed to stay healthy through his first two seasons as a pro and Boone has an incredibly similar running style. If Cook gets injured again, Boone might be the biggest beneficiary. Look for him to lock up his roster spot with another strong preseason performance against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 3.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson is embroiled in a battle with Austin Ekeler to see who could be the starter if star running back Melvin Gordon's holdout continues into the regular season, but neither looked particularly good in the team's second preseason game on Sunday. Jackson averaged 4.1 yards per carry in the game, but over half of his 33 yards came on a single 17-yard carry. Jackson isn't a bad running back, but it's likely that the two will share the load since both have struggled as the lead back in their limited opportunities. Obviously, Jackson's value crashes dramatically if Gordon comes back, though there are currently no indications that he's close to returning.
Washington Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson has seen just one target in the team's first two preseason games thus far. This isn't anything new, as projected veteran starters are routinely eased into action, so it isn't worth reading much into. Still, Doctson doesn't have the shiniest track record of production as Washington's number-one wide receiver, and the Redskins' two quarterbacks (Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins) are each in their first year with the team. It makes sense for a known quantity such as Jordan Reed to take it easy in the preseason, but it's at least a little bit surprising not to see Doctson get more work with either quarterback. In any case, he's on the fantasy back-burner when it comes to draft day.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Easton Stick was the clean-up man for the team again in Week 2 of the preseason, but he didn't do much to impress this time around. Stick went just 5-for-13 through the air for 62 yards and threw an interception. Stick is pretty clearly in third place for the backup job for the Chargers this year, facing off against a pair of former starting quarterbacks trying to extend their careers. While he's shown moments that inspire some interest and hope for his future, he's clearly a few steps behind the other two and only likely to end up on the practice squad.
Miami backup running back Kalen Ballage is now considered the starter in Miami's backfield until further notice, with starter Kenyan Drake still without a timetable to return from the foot injury he suffered in practice last week. With Drake likely to miss at least the rest of the preseason, Ballage sat out the Dolphin's second preseason game as a precaution. Even before the injury to Drake, Ballage had been impressive in training camp, getting an equal amount of work with the first-team. With a 101 ADP in the NFBC, owners that passed on the Drake for the upside of Ballage could be rewarded if Drake is unable to play in Week One.
Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed has predictably not been featured in either of the team's two preseason games, as his health is a far higher priority than seeing what he's capable of on the field. All things appear just fine on the health front, though, as Reed came into 2019 training camp without lingering injury concerns for the first time in years. With this in mind, it's likely that the Redskins have simply elected not to tempt fate early on in the preseason. With their third exhibition contest approaching later this week, it stands to reason that Reed will see some action. His TE14 ADP (per Fantasy Football Calculator) could rise in the final few weeks of draft season if Reed gets on the field and performs well.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Cardale Jones took over from starter Tyrod Taylor in the team's second preseason game on Sunday, and he promptly led the offense on a 97-yard touchdown drive. The drive required a generous pass interference penalty to get out of the shadow of its own end zone, but Jones made a couple nice throws including a strike to Andre Patton for the 24-yard touchdown. Jones is fighting a bit of an uphill battle against the accurate but uninteresting Tyrod Taylor, but head coach Anthony Lynn has remained dedicated to the company line that the backup quarterback job will not be decided until the very end. If Jones can continue to shine while Taylor sputters, he could come out the victor.
Dealing with a foot injury suffered in practice last week, Kenyan Drake missed the Dolphin's second preseason game as expected and will likely miss the rest of the preseason as well. While Drake is expected to be ready for the start of the season, no exact timetable is set for his return. Drake is currently being drafted in the sixth round with a 72 ADP in NFBC and his owners can only wait to see how this injury shakes out, and hope that they had enough foresight to draft his backup Kalen Ballage.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor started Sunday's game against the Saints and struggled to move the ball with the first-team offense. He went 7-for-10 for 57 yards, but he also suffered his first interception of the season on a tipped ball that fluttered right to a Saints DB. Taylor was unable to drive the team across midfield on any of his four drives, and it won't help his chances that Cardale Jones played well after Taylor left the field. Of course, Jones was facing a different defense and Taylor's struggles were accentuated by a poor run game that is missing its star, but it's never good to struggle when battling for a roster spot.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (knee) returned to practice on Monday. Njoku had missed the previous week's action while nursing a knee injury, which held him out of the team's second preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts last Saturday. Njoku's ability to return indicates that the knee injury was never anything too serious. He is trending in the right direction ahead of the team's preseason dress rehearsal game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. Njoku is a mid-level TE1 in fantasy drafts this season.
Washington Redskins running back Byron Marshall entered 2019 training camp vying for the fourth slot on the depth chart. In two preseason games, he has carried the ball six times for 19 total yards. He did add an 11-yard reception to his tally in Thursday's contest, but his output is not indicative of a player running away with a roster spot. There figures to be minimal fantasy value from Marshall even if he were to earn the reserve RB role in Washington, as Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice are the clear top options. This backfield is best left alone in almost any fantasy format after Peterson and Guice.